Beginner Spice up the blues


Hello all

I've been playing for a while and I was just wondering what you all do to spice up the blues. I play the minor and major pentatonic scales when I'm playing the blues, I add a few chromatic passages and notes from the respective minor (aeolian) and major scale, what else can I do for those little "out" bits (for want of a better explanation), can i build any other scales from other notes in those scales? could anyone point me in the right direction or give a few words of advice? It'd be great if you could.

Thankyou, keep posting and playing!



New Member
Good question, Funkymonk. I'm interested to hear what others have to say about that as well - sorry, I can't help you myself.

Greetings to Heidelberg, nice place.


Linky Lee

Pete's got a great page about playing the blues on the main site.
Really pick out the IV and V chords. Most of the time these are dominant 7 chords. That means lots of possibilities!

Diminished, Altered, Tri-tone substitution sounds. Also there are lots of variations on the standard 12 bar blues format which you can find online with substituted chords which can make for some refreshing escapes.


Why not try some alphabetic/melodic quotes? Starting with one from Armstrong, then Bechet, then Charlie P etc?

Malcolm MRSPMJ (Member of the royal society for the protection of melodic jazz)


Well-Known Member
- Add some effects to your playing: Staccato, thrills tremolos, "Doo-Woop", subtones.....
- Less is more: Don't play too much. Leave some space. I think lots of tones up and down is boring!
- The necessary repetition: A tone or a lick. Listen to Red Prysock. He is/was a master of the one-tone-solo!
- Energy and mood: If the song has lyrics, try to give words to the lyrics with you sax. Tell a story. An uptempo blues needs more engery and volume than slow blues ...
- Arrange your playing: If you're going to play a 12 bar blues or a 4 bar solo, you need to cut up your playing into smaller pieces. Try to hit the interesting and the "key" tones! A long tone can say a lot ... . Make it interesting for you as a player but also for the listeners!

Listen to other saxplayers. Saxplayers like King Curtis, Red Prysock, Noble "Thin Man" Watts, Clifford Scott .... have been played a lot in my place. But also contemporary players like Eddie Shaw, Clarence Clemons, David "Woody" Woodford, Sax Gordon, Andrew Clark, "Big Walker" ... gives me ideas to what I would like to do with my sax and playing. I bought a CD of a player that was unknown for me. His name is Bobby "Hurricane" Spencer. He plays his sax and sings the blues in a way that is very close to what I'm capable of and also to what I want to do. So I think playing is more about musical influences that in reach for you. Playing sax, can be more like cooking as well. In the beginning you need recepies but after some time you can cook without them. After some years you've created your own way of cooking!!


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